A measure that would have made it easier for local districts to pass school bonds failed today after it didn’t receive the required vote in the Senate.

Senate Joint Resolution 8201, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), would have amended the state constitution to change the school bond threshold for passage from 60 percent to a simple majority. Changing the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote in each body of the Legislature — 33 votes in the Senate.

The resolution received only 28 votes. The entire Senate Democratic Caucus voted for the resolution, while no members of the Senate Republican Caucus voted for it.

“We’ve been hearing from schools for years, for decades, that we need to change the 60-percent requirement for school bond passage,” Wellman said. “Meanwhile, student health and safety is being put at risk as school districts are unable to raise the funds for necessary school improvements.

“We’ve heard stories of black mold, of roofs caving in, and still a minority of this body is keeping us from making this meaningful change.”

Implementing a simple majority for school bonds would have required both SJR 8201 and Senate Bill 5066.

Representatives from large and small school districts throughout the state testified in support of these bills — including administrators, students and teachers from the Bethel School District in Pierce County, Reardan-Edwall School District in Lincoln County, North Thurston Public Schools in Thurston County, and Sequim School District in Clallam County.

Wellman also received letters, emails and photographs from students asking for a change in the school bond threshold. “This bill is really about local control,” Wellman said. “Oftentimes, a large majority of a community supports a bond — 51, 55 or 59 percent. And still, the bond fails and school districts don’t have the funding to make improvements or build new schools. It’s disappointing that some senators don’t trust their local communities enough to make this important change.”

Public Testimony on school bond measures from the Feb. 6 Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee Hearing:

South Kitsap School District

Video 1: The deputy superintendent of the South Kitsap School District recalls how many bond measures have failed in recent years — despite having more than 50 percent of the vote.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2VVDKZv

Video 2: The assistant superintendent of the South Kitsap School District explains the safety challenges and space constraints that come with an inability to pass school bonds. The district’s newest buildings are about 30 years old, while the rest are 50 to 70 years old.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2NXcOFU

Bethel School District:

Video 1: A student from Graham-Kapowsin High School, in the Bethel School District, explains the challenges her school faces because of overcrowding. She’s also concerned about school safety.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2HgKaiD

Port Angeles School District:

Video 1: A Port Angeles School District senior explains the challenges caused by his school’s aging building — including a time a classroom roof caved in.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2HfcUsa

Video 2: A Port Angeles High School senior explains what it’s like to attend a school that’s more than 60 years old. The heating doesn’t work and the roof leaks — and eventually it caved in.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2XTAwrh

Rearden-Edwall School District:

Video 1: A representative from a small, rural district describes several failed attempts at passing bonds. He also explains why this is a school safety issue.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2F8C8WY

Yelm Community Schools:

Video 1: The superintendent of Yelm Community Schools asks the Legislature to change the threshold for school bonds, explaining the burden the current model places on “property poor” school districts.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2CbuPMb

North Thurston Public Schools:

Video 1: A North Thurston Public Schools administrator describes the expensive process of passing school bonds in his district.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2ETU7if

Sequim School District:

Video 1: A school board member recounts the district’s history of trying to pass bonds.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2Ch8OeZ

Battleground School District:

Video 1: A science teacher from the Battleground School District explains the importance of changing the school bond threshold.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2VWJmml

Video 2: A community member recalls all of the bonds that have failed over the decades, and asks for a lower threshold for school bonds.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2u57QxW

Video 3: A school board member explains why changing the school bond threshold is a matter of safety and equity.
WATCH: http://bit.ly/2VVwOvg